With nightlife in abundance, city has everything to suit many tastes
glen miller/metro toronto
It’s 2:30 a.m. The speakers kick out sound at what seems like airline-landing decibel levels. Techno music blares inside the Tresor Club. The packed floor of bodies is in harmony dancing to the thudding beat.
The legendary Tresor, known worldwide as the place to be for electronic music since 1991, just recently opened in its new three-floor home, formerly an industrial power station, on Köpenickerstrasse in Mitte, a central borough of Berlin. Switching dance floors is an adventure in itself. You just never know what you’ll see while walking along the 30-metre long tunnel. Like many Berlin nightspots where the dance crowd doesn’t exit until early daylight, it’s just another routine all-nighter for a young Berliner — and a few odd tourists. After a solid hour on the strobe-lit dance floor, one figures a daily exercise regimen has been fulfilled.
When soaking up some of the vibrant, cool places in this city of 3.4 million, the first surprise is everything is not as it appears on the outside, i.e., the Tresor. There’s little outside in its industrial neighbourhood to suggest that this area is a people magnet.
The same can be said for the hundreds who strive to find their cozy little spot near an ... old river cargo container. Say what? It’s called Badeschiff and it’s an odd eye-grabber. Located in the eastern Berlin district of Treptow in the East Harbour of the Spree River, for a small fee, the public can swim in the fresh water rectangular barge — measuring 32.5 metres long by 8.2 metres wide and just more than two metres deep. With a man-made sandy beach and a patio setting, Badeschiff turns into party central late into the evening, especially on the weekends. En route to Badeschiff is yet another industrial-looking laneway that looks more like it’s ready for construction workers than a party crowd. Flanked by more clubs, the place is yet another hotspot to hang out. Like most nightclubs in
Berlin, the action doesn’t kick into high gear until midnight. For a slower pace, there are several beach bars to wind down if you’re looking for sandy terrain.
It’s what you can experience in a short time frame that is so fascinating about Berlin: Doing a tour around a section of the Wall, then viewing a neat-looking hostel on water (the Eastern hostelboat & lounge), and then a beach bar.
glen miller/metro toronto
Of course, a first trip to Berlin requires an examination of the Wall — the historic concrete divide that separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Most of the 45-kilometre wall has been knocked down, but the couple stretches that still exist serve as a reminder of the Cold War. When it’s right in front of you, history lessons come into sharp focus, augmented by the many war-related museums in Berlin. The Wall’s history and legacy are put into chilling perspective at The Berlin Wall Documentation Center at Bernauer Strasse — an East/West border area that is a focal point of German postwar history. With its in-depth displays of historical and political events, the centre overlooks what was once the death strip. A replica has been built so visitors can see for themselves the life and death chances East Berliners took to get over the wall to gain freedom for a new life.
After the fall of the Wall, it became a favourite canvass for artists to paint on, becoming like an outdoor art gallery featuring a range of word and graffiti images.
Off the city’s main streets, it’s often a peaceful existence in the eclectic neighbourhoods, full of one-room studio apartments and wide-window framed stores, selling everything from handmade ornaments, custom-made furniture and artwork.
With outdoor cafés in abundance, you never seem to be far from a place to sit down and relax. Some cafés put living room furniture out in the street for sitting patrons — a tempting, casual setting to be sure.
A great way to explore Berlin is by bicycle, especially when exploring the Wall and getting the full verbal history from a guide.
With tourism now Berlin’s No. 1 industry, the industry has flourished in the last couple years. In fact, according to Berlin Tourism, the city that covers 890 square kilometres is now No. 3 behind only London and Paris for visitor destinations in Europe.
Day or night, Berlin is alive with a vibe.